Gray Jay in the tree next to camp
The songbirds have migrated south for the winter leaving us with the chickadees, ravens, blue jays, and grouse. It has been a brilliant fall this year and the leaves around camp have been blazing orange, red and yellow. Many of them fell to the ground a few days ago in a windstorm leaving bare branches clicking in the wind and me with a rake in my hand.
I stood on the warm sun-filled porch looking out at the yard of leaves. A few more fell in a cluster by the birdfeeder looking like a small flock of birds flying from its branches. I held a quarter in my hands rubbing its’ raised surface and eyeing the rake and wheel-barrel by the fading garden flowers. I’d been putting off raking for a few days now. “Heads I rake the yard today, tails I canoe around the pond instead.” I flipped the coin, catching it as it glinted in the sun and slapped it meaningfully onto the back of my hand. I peeked under my fingers. Heads. Rats. I could flip again…but I didn’t. I walked down the steps and picked up the rake to begin, waving at the neighbors who were strolling down the road on this sunny fall day.
Ready to rake?
Raking up the yard
Bring it on winter!
With this year’s and next year’s wood stacked in the woodshed and the leaves raked up from the yard I called it a day and strolled down to the pond. Even with the frost we’ve been getting at night the days are still warm enough to take the canoe out and follow the great blue heron as it fishes along the shoreline. Winter is coming, but it’s not quiet here yet and it’s time to soak in as much of the remaining fall days as possible.
In other news, the roof at Red Quill is being torn off and replaced with a new dormer on the backside of the camp. Get ready for more headroom upstairs! Check out the facebook page for pictures of the progress!
Goodbye old roof!
Jack With a Trout
We got up at dawn and made our way to the river. I ducked through the woods pushing the dewy branches aside, stepped into the river and tied on a nymph. I cast into the swift water and let it drift. A Golden-Eye duck flew up the river and past me. I cast again, and this time a trout bit my fly and pulled my line out. I netted it, delighted by the thrill of catching a fish, and admired its bright red sides. We caught fish after fish in the early morning, working our way down the river laughing at our luck.
Summer days move like a trout in the river, slowly with the current, and then with occasional bursts of energetic activity.
At dusk we sat around the campfire listening to the loons’ haunting calls from the pond. My toes dug into the grass in front of the flickering flames. The lid of the BBQ grill was open and the smell of dinner wafted toward me. Lightening bugs flickered in the bushes along the yard. The warm summer air settled heavily on my bare arms. I closed my eyes and soaked in the summer evening.
Moose Behind Camp
Spring is slow to arrive in Rangeley, but the snow is in fact melting and the rivers are flowing again! A few fish are biting and the snowbanks that I have to climb over to stand in the rivers are quickly diminishing. Last week as I stood in the river, bundled up in layers beneath my waders, three osprey circled overhead fishing with me. None of us caught anything, but it was still good to be out on the water.
The birds are starting to come back and forage on the newly bare ground around camp. As I stood on the porch drinking my morning tea a flock of 150-200 dark eyed juncos flew into the yard and surrounded Red Quill on all sides! I stood on the porch amidst them as they flitted between the ground and tree branches feeding for about 7 minutes and then they all flew away. It was a whirlwind of feathers and chirping announcing the arrival of spring.
buried in snow!
For the second time this winter as I pulled into the driveway of Red Quill I could hardly see the windows because the snow banks were so high! It was a clear and bitter cold night; the stars twinkled behind the frozen brittle branches of the birch trees in the back yard. A few deer stood beneath the thicket of evergreen trees and stared at my headlights, their nostrils steaming with breath, their thick healthy coats making them look like miniature elk. I shut my headlights off and strained to see them in the dark. When I got out of the car they had already disappeared into the night.
Around camp I could see the tracks of rabbits and weasels crisscrossing the yard and I added my own footprints to the mix. I was eager to track them in the morning.
Adventure called this winter and it has kept me from writing about what a fantastic winter it has been! I was away in January exploring the jagged peaks and glaciers of Patagonia Chile and Argentina–a truly wild landscape! And although I was happy to be away during the bitter cold start to this season, it was also nice to come home to the cozy fire of Red Quill and fresh snow.
a cozy fire
Adventuring in Patagonia